Weaver House, the technical coda

The full series of Weaver House posts..

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to gentrification. I love Brick Lane, and change. More, I’m astounded at the speed of the transformation, the huge global economic forces at work, and how they are channeled by local government and local people. When I became curious about this strange building (and my friends can hopefully understand this brief obsession), I never imagined the amount of discussion, planning, paper work, and attention was focused on it. Weaver House has been the fulcrum of London urban and global transformation.

So I’m not opposed to change, but I do think most people are at an information disadvantage. The local government and transport authorities have professionals, software, and data that average folks can’t match. They make things available under public disclosure laws, but wading through them takes concerted effort. Documents and plans are filed and keyed to so many different systems .. local planning, regional transport, parliamentary bills, international Olympics .. linking these together in any semantic way is an astounding task. Yet there’s one simple system which they all could easily hook into .. geography. I simply want to be able to search, and ask for all the information about a small half kilometer square area. That is why I’m pushing for GeoRSS, open geo data, and open source geo software .. not for the Web 2.0 holy grail of a good restaurant review .. but to provide the simplest and easiest way to organize information about the world, and put everyone on equal footing when it comes to deciding our future.

photo by uriba

5 Comments

  1. Allan Doyle said,

    November 22, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Great series of posts, Mikel! I think your last paragraph sums up what a lot of us would like to achieve. Thanks for your leadership.

  2. Trevor F. Smith said,

    November 22, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

    What an excellent obsession.

    I’ve been wondering how to reach land and building owners with the idea of opening their copious data to the public, or at least for post-construction residents’ use. Perhaps it makes sense that a small part of my apartment rent would pay for upkeep of a digital model of my building and its systems, for use in personal location sensing as well as in maintenance of the plumbing and electrical systems.

    I wonder if savings from not cutting lines by digging or drilling in the wrong place would (on average) cover the cost of maintaining such a model?

  3. Brain Off » Ask Later about Sussex Geek Dinners said,

    December 6, 2006 @ 11:48 am

    […] I’m planning to present at Ask Later #2, probably on planning and Weaver House. That’s December 12th in London, and open to anyone with 20 slides. […]

  4. Brain Off » PlanningAlerts.com in the Guardian said,

    January 25, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    […] I had been thinking along similar lines after researching Weaver House, and being surprised that my friends had moved into the middle of the largest construction project ever in the UK. So far, I’ve completed about 90% of a screen scraper for Tower Hamlets, which uses a system called Planning Online for publishing planning applications. That system is widely used, so Camden, the New Forest, and dozens of other planning bodies aren’t far behind. I’d also like to see GeoRSS available along side email. […]

  5. Brain Off » Events said,

    February 15, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    […] is this weekend .. will probably talk about Weaver House. Though OpenStreetMap Baghdad has my head spinning today. […]

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